Forming from the leftover detritus of Those Dancing Days, Swedish post-punk duo Vulkano are as uncontrollable and explosive as the phenomenon from which they’ve nabbed their sobriquet. While not necessarily as dour as other heralds of the genre (take Savages or MONEY, for example), they still harness the raw, gravelly energy of their chosen style – however, rather than simply channelling that power into pantomime rage, they’ve opted to veer towards the realms of pop also. It’s a grinning snarl that embodies Vulkano’s debut LP Live Wild Die Free.
Of the cuts we’ve heard already, Choir Of Wolves stands out brightest. Slinking into earshot via the pair howling like lupine hedonists, it rapidly swells with arpeggiated synths and serrated bass riffs into a boisterous animal of a track. The twosome have described Choir Of Wolves as being about “escapism and frustration”, and in a way, both these traits are evident. They craft an untamed wilderness, desolate and frigid, with the gruff instrumentation and expansive volume, but from the bitterness that’s ingrained in post-punk’s hallmarks you get their pent-up anger as well. It’s not a bellicose bully chucking its weight around, more like teenagers in a moshpit discovering metal for the first time and plunging headfirst into a fresh world. While they operate under the label of post-punk, they’re not afraid to have a little fun.
Jungle is like some ’70s prog. rock charmer spliced with the OST to a Crash Bandicoot game. Pitched percussion and off-kilter acid-trip yowls (“I see a jungle mushroom/ so I pick it up/ it smells funky/ and I like funk…”) form the foundation here, but gradually more and more elements are injected until Jungle is an experimental barrage of noise. Spider Spider features similar elements – skulking, woody bass tones and pitched ostinatos that recall samba rhythms – but it’s less flippant. It’s really a dance-oriented number, and rather than sounding like Bauhaus, they sound a bit like short-lived Danish producers Junior Senior.
When they do careen into more traditional post-punkian lands, the tone shifts drastically. Psycho Girl sees vocalist Cissi Efraimsson don Kate Nash‘s accent underneath industrial-lite grinds and incessant sirens; when she starts mewing about halfway through, it’s not demure or cheek-squeezingly cute, it’s actually pretty terrifying. Psycho Girl seems about right. Vision Trick inhabits the native ecosystem of the post-punk – the ’80s. It’s dark and brooding, with plenty of sparse bass thwacks and echoey percussion, but there’s a funkiness there, similar to bands like Orange Juice. It’s still got its vital pop heartbeat.
Vulkano prove two main things on Live Wild Die Free: that they’re not too fond of modern society and that they have way more fun than you. Pertaining to the former point, the album’s title alone should provide hints. If that’s not obvious enough, then Choir Of Wolves, Clap Your Bones and Trolls should give a more detailed indicator. How about demonstrating the level of fun-itude that Vulkano have? Well, throughout the record, not a second goes by that’s not brimming with a joie de vivre. They yelp with glee, the bass guitar and drums can’t help but waltz into disco0-funk every now and again, and even the conventions of their galvanised genre are candy-coated. They’re not pastiches or spoofs, but they are definitely not taking themselves totally seriously here. It’s sloppy, grazed-elbow raw and exceedingly unrefined, and therein lies the charm – it’s 100% honest. There’s no pretense, no illusion. This is two best buds having a rollicking good time.